The Bhang Lassi Experience

The Bhang Lassi Experience

I was preparing to have diner in a cheap yet delicious restaurant in the Indian city of Pushkar. Going through the menu, an item conspicuously labeled ‘Special Lassi’ aroused my curiosity. Lassi, for those of you unfamiliar with the treats of Indian cuisine, describes a usually sweet drink made of yogurt and varying types of fruit. Special, for those of you unfamiliar with the legitimate-sounding designations given to food items containing illicit drugs in Asian countries, usually describes the use of marijuana or a similar substance in preparing the item in question. In ‘Special Lassi’, it is a certain type of marijuana – accurately named ‘bhang’ – that brings about the buzz.

After confirming with the waiter that this was indeed what I wanted, I ordered one and devoured it together with my Thali (an Indian set meal consisting of a variety of small dishes). Afterwards I walked back towards my hotel, picking up snacks along the way and taking note of a light but pleasant sensation that started to take hold of my body, not unlike the feeling you get if you smoke some really good bud, not a whole lot of it, but just a little bit. I walked up to the rooftop of my hotel, from where I had a good view over most of the city as well as over the lake around which Pushkar is centred.

After that, things got quite hazy.

I vaguely remember leaving my hotel again, taking two turns to the right, and then standing close to the shore of the lake. It was night, and I didn’t see another person. Nor did I hear any sounds. It was as if all life had momentarily vanished from the face off the earth. It was then and there that I transcended from the familiar state of being stoned towards a different realm: I saw all these magnificent temples, whitewashed and solemn, illuminated by the bright full moon, and believed myself to be in Ancient Rome. It was great: I could fully immerse myself in thoughts of distinguished senators and the capitol, could almost feel their presence around me, yet at the same time I was still somehow connected to reality (or at least to what I usually assume is reality). I believed that I was in Ancient Rome, but I knew that I wasn’t.

Perhaps it was this very contradiction, this cognitive dissonance, which led to what happened next. I became aware that I was being stared at, or rather, I considered the possibility of being stared at and then drew the conclusion that I was indeed being stared at. It was pure paranoia, but luckily not in a sense that evocated fear, because it didn’t occur to me that the person(s) watching me were out to harm me in any way. Nonetheless it made me feel anxious, so I quickly turned and strode back towards the bigger streets, aimlessly roaming them until I came across a store that had a very nice Acapulco Shirt displayed inside. Immediately after I went inside to take a closer look, it occurred to me how bad of an idea it is to wander into a store full of people wanting to sell you shit if you’re completely fucked up. I stood inside, sweating profusely,  as the shopkeeper went to the storage, rummaged through the closets, searching for the right size, and then returned with a disappointed look on his face. I thanked the owner effusively, then retreated and walked back to my hotel.

As I lay in bed, I recorded my state of mind on a voice note. It was a rather dreadful spectacle. I was so high I was barely able to move, but somehow I managed to wank. After that I began to hear beautiful techno beats mixed together with Indian folk songs wafting in through my open window. It was impossible for me to determine if the music was real or solely a product of my own imagination. Occasionally it seemed that the beat had stopped, leaving behind only the singing. Once it resumed, I thought: ‘What if this is greatest and biggest techno festival in all of India, right here in Pushkar, and I am going to miss it?’

After that, I passed out.

Such was my experience with Bhang Lassi. The next evening I went back again, ready for round two.

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The Bhang Lassi Experience

Why going to war with ISIS is a horrible idea

As German parliament voted in favor of sending troops into Syria and Iraq to help fighting ISIS, large parts of German media seem to have made it their duty to align the population on these military measures. In the reasoning of editors and commentators, Germany owes France any help it can give in order to combat the terrorists, and therefore it should provide military support. While the first part of this line of thought may very well be right, the second only proves an inability – both to accept lessons from the past and to look beyond the immediate threat that is ISIS towards the larger problems in our economic and political systems that contributed to the existence of such an organization. Even though ISIS bases itself on Islam, it would not have been able to come into being without contribution from the West regarding at least two major factors:

  1. The weapons that have been brought into the region ever since the systematic training and armament of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. To this day, Western countries continue to supply arms to countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, when it has been proven time and again that some of these will inevitably end up in the hands of the very movements that the West is so engaged in combating. In fact, this is so contradictory that it can only be explained by the fact that the continued political turmoil and military action comes with great benefits for those involved. Since 9/11, the “war on terror” has cost an estimated $1.7 trillion (more than twice what has been spent on the Vietnam War), and it is not hard to see who is reaping the profits. Hint: It’s neither the US soldiers who died nor the countless civilians that have been killed. Instead, arms firms in the US have been able to increase their profits from $6.7 billion (2001) to $24.8 billion (2011) over the course of just eight years.

To be clear, I am not saying that these companies had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks or even the decision to launch the war on terror, but I do say that companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman certainly have a lot at stake should the US decide to end its hilariously unsuccessful campaign in the near future. So at this point another war might come in very handy for them, because economic growth and therefore a companies’ constant revenue growth are pillars of our economic system. But less war would mean less profit, and this is something all companies would like to avoid.

  1. The second major factor contributing to the strength of radical movements is the continuous policy of intervention in the Middle East, both politically and military, by the US government and its allies, which has not only robbed entire generations of their possibilities but also nourished a hate among people that is being instrumentalized by radical groups, of which ISIS only constitutes the latest example. If this policy were to be continued, it might be possible to annihilate ISIS, just as it was possible to weaken Al-Kaida and kill its leaders, but on the contrary it will strengthen resentment among local populations and foster the current hatred to which the US is already subjected in large parts of the Arabic world.

Perhaps even more importantly, this policy has also played quite a large part in the radicalization that can currently be witnessed in parts of Islamic culture and that many Islamic scholars now praise as the ‘true’ Islamic teachings, but which actually used to be a minor movement within Islamic culture, right up until the US started funding this ideology because it was seen as helpful during the cold war period. The elimination of democratically elected governments with moderate views in favor of radicalized fascists that where initially easier to be controlled was also one of the favorite methods to secure the strategic interests of the West. The prime example for this would certainly be the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadeq in Iran in 1953 and his replacement by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

So if German media still hold the opinion, that military intervention would prevent terrorist attacks from happening in the future, yet alone provide the conditions for a more stable Middle East region, they should shut the fuck up and become lobbyists straight away. It’s true, Germany should help France in its efforts to prevent other terrorist attacks, but marching side by side into a new war would be the last thing that helps.

Why going to war with ISIS is a horrible idea

Freedom threatened from within?

Some thoughts on France’s state of emergency

The law on which the French declaration of emergency state is based dates back to 1955 and enables the government to, among other things, declare curfews, prohibit assemblages of people, and search houses without the necessity of obtaining a warrant beforehand.

We do not need to go back in time very far to find a startlingly similar incident of restriction of individual freedoms in the name of anti-terrorist measures. What I am referring to, is, of course, the infamous Patriot Act, which had been installed as a seemingly protective measure after the 9/11 attacks, but has done nothing except for severely damaging US citizens’ rights and bringing war to the Middle East. Similar to what is now happening in France, it had been intended as a rather short time measure, but is being extended continuously, serving the purpose of politicians and war-mongering industrials alike. This law has succeeded in doing the damage to society the terrorists did not have the power to do, namely restricting the way of life that they so much despise, and replacing it with a regime that will constitute a greater threat to us than the terrorists themselves.

The measures adopted by Hollande and his parliament might serve the purpose of calming the French population momentarily, but they surely will neither achieve security nor will they solve the problems that are the cause for such despicable attacks.

Once again, politicians use terrorist attacks to justify increased constraints of civil liberties. It is a tell-tale as old as such attacks itself. The populations’ increased need for security, coupled with politicians’ desire to show their capability of dealing with the situation, yields terrible results. Even though it is very obvious that the root of the problem is way deeper, this is not being addressed at all. The roots lie, in a nutshell, in the failed states of the Middle East, the structural racism still prevailing in western societies, and ultimately and most importantly, in our current economic system. I believe that most people recognize this either consciously or subconsciously, but to acknowledge it openly would mean to think about abolishing or at least changing the current system, something most people in the West wouldn’t want to do, since we are the ones who benefit from it. As long as we do not change this system which, in the same way we profit from it, enslaves the greater part of the planet’s population, we can never combat terrorism effectively. We might be able to destroy ISIS, but the problems will still be there, giving rise to new attacks and new terrorist groups. This is the lesson we should learn from Paris. Unfortunately, considering contemporary history it is highly unlikely that we learn this lesson.

Freedom threatened from within?